Still Runnin’ Down a Dream—Tom Petty set to headline San Francisco’s 7th annual Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival.
Even at the age of 63, this American rocker isn’t slowing down one bit. After securing a headlining spot at one of the US’s top music festivals, it’s clear to see this legend isn’t going anywhere as he continues to hold his own amongst much younger, trending bands.
Tom Petty has been touring strong with his band, The Heartbreakers, since the late 70’s and the classic rock group hasn’t lost any of their passion or fan base. Petty’s love of music is as strong as it was when he was a child, he says “it keeps me young, it keeps me feeling like I have some purpose.” And that purpose was clear to him at a young age.
At the age of 14, Petty started his first band and later dropped out of school to join Mudcrutch at the age of 17. While this was a bold and risky move, Petty was passionate about pursuing his music and got with a group that stuck. Mudcrutch members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench would evolve into The Heartbreakers, Petty’s most well known band that is still thriving today.
While Petty has seen major success with all of his musical endeavors, including his other bands The Traveling Wilburys (founded with his idols and friends George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne) and Mudcrutch, and his collaborations with artists such as Stevie Nicks and The Grateful Dead, The Heartbreakers are still reigning in their rock and roll glory.
Encompassing southern rock, soulful blues, powerful instrumentals and a uniquely strained and gritty voice, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers were, and continue to be, among one of the best American Rock bands. Having been nominated for several Grammys including “Best Rock Song”, “Best Rock Album” awards with the band, and having won the Grammy for “Best Music Video,” “Best Male Vocal Performance” and MTV’s “Best Male Video” awards, the band has had major success and Petty has won several “Legend” “Century Honoree” and “Best Male Vocals” awards as well.
His record success surpassing 80 million records sold worldwide is matched by his concert sell outs, and with the growing increase and popularity of music festivals, Petty has garnered the attention of the best of them. Petty has done an incredible job staying loyal to his original fan base and keeping up with younger generations with his never fading energy and old rock charisma. As Stephen Thomas Erlewine, music journalist and senior editor for ALLMUSIC explains in his biography on Petty, Petty’s “willingness to experiment with the boundaries of classic rock & roll helped Petty sustain his popularity well into the ’90s,” and his ability to adapt to current music trends, such as the growing popularity of festivals, continues to keep Petty in the limelight.
Recently, Petty has hit the festival circuit, headlining at last year’s Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, the Hangout Festival in Alabama, and has just been announced to headline Outside Lands this August. It is so refreshing to see such an accomplished and talented artists still pulling rank with the ever growing festival music scenes that often showcase trending artists, leaving behind some of the greatest rockers that are still around and love what they’re doing.
On reflecting about last years festival performance and the mixed crowd of fans, Petty told Rolling Stone that "that’s really the fun of playing a festival like that: you’re playing to lots of hardcore fans, but you’re also playing to people that have never seen you before…It’s great to play to so many young people that you know couldn’t have even been born when we started out. They were just a wonderful audience." Having been in that audience last summer, this music lover can say that Petty won over new, younger fans and kept a fire burning for die hard Heartbreaker fans alike. His excitement and energy likely sparked this upcoming headlining spot and San Francisco will be in for a real treat this summer when Petty takes the stage among other headlining acts The Killers and Kanye West.